Month: September 2012

Road Trip Day 5, Illinois to Texas :(

Cruising through the Ozarks

Good weather all day today.  The first couple hours of the drive were pleasant, as we drove through the rolling hills of the Ozarks.  Then we crossed the border into Oklahoma …

Sorry, Chrisie. OK is still not our favorite state.


To be fair, the eastern half of Oklahoma is pretty.  Lots of green, farms, Casinos …

Our first Rest Stop was right after crossing into Oklahoma, and it was very nice. They even had free coffee.


The Muskogee River was pretty, as was Lake Eufala a little bit later.


I liked seeing the horses and cows.


It's a good thing only one of us likes the slot machines.


Things went downhill as we made our way into Oklahoma City. Lots of construction, and once you get past the city, it is boring.


Do you remember studying about the Chisholm Trail in elementary school?


Did I mention this part of the drive was boring?


Dueling trucks tried their best to crunch us as we passed by the Welcome to Texas sign.


The most exciting thing we saw in Texas were three trucks going by with these gigantic wind turbine blades.


The second most exciting was the leaning water tower just outside of Groom, Texas. Look it up - it's on wikipedia.


Remember the quiz question about where we saw the largest cross last year? If you guessed Texas, you were wrong. It was an unintentional trick question - it was actually two years ago when we made this part of the drive. The Effingham folks built their steel cross 6 ft higher than this one ... This one is better, because it has cows.


Sometimes, there is no need for words.


We found our Best Western in Amarillo - conveniently located right on next to the Interstate. It's actually good - the rooms have been recently rennovated, and we have the best TV we've had so far. And - two queen beds. Paws up from Natasha.


Tonight will be sandwiches for dinner.  We drive to Gallup, New Mexico tomorrow.  Too bad we have to spend more time in Texas 🙂

Road Trip – Day 4, Illinois to Arkansas !!!

Whew, we are more than half way done with the traveling gig.  It feels good.  Today was a good day.  No drama, some interesting things to see.  We left the room at 7am, which was 8am according to Steve Jobs, so we were on schedule.  We arrived in Fayetteville, Arkansas at 3:30 pm – that would be the real time, not Apple time.

This large steel cross was right across from our hotel.  It is supposedly the largest steel cross in the US, at 196ft.  I showed another “largest cross” last year.  Does anyone remember where that one was?

Large Steel Cross in Effingham, Illinios


Weather was good, we had just a few sprinkles for a short time.  Not as much construction, and less hassle from the trucks.  Natasha was mostly good all day.  She started out riding in her spot in the backseat, but after the morning nap, she is convinced she needs to be up front.

As we set off for the morning's drive...


I wasn’t going to show anymore farms and grain silos, but I wanted to cover the Corn Issue that I neglected to touch on yesterday.  As we were driving by more cornfields in Illinois, I asked Dr. Epcot what the deal was with all the dead corn.  He says, “ummm – that would be the result of the drought, it’s been all over the news.”  Oh Yeah, well hey – I’ve been in boat-mode.  Turns out, the drought did a nasty on the corn this year.  And, since there is a mandate that a certain amount has to go to make ethanol for gasoline, over 40% of this year’s crop goes to ethanol.  That means the price of corn for livestock feed and human feed is skyrocketing.  Of course, this is Obama’s fault.  So there – that is the story of the dead corn.  The good thing is, soybeans are more resistant to the drought.

The corn doesn't look terrible here - you can still see some green stalks.


Unfortunately, this is the way a lot of the really bad stuff looks. So sad. We do love some good fresh corn on the cob.


The next series of photos shows what we saw as we drove through St. Louis on the Interstate.  The Gateway Arch, or Gateway to the West, is an arch that is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri. It was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States. At 630 feet (192 m), it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States,[4] Missouri’s tallest accessible building, and the largest architectural structure designed as a weighted or flattened catenary arch. (source:  Wikipedia)

Our first view of the Arch - the mountain on the right is a giant landfill.


We're getting closer - but we're not sure how good our view will actually be as we go through the city. Yes, I know some people would actually be willing to detour to see such an icon - but we are in Travel Mode!


Cool - we are getting a good view of the Arch and the city skyline.


Not bad for 70 miles an hour. Who needs to stop to see National Historic Landmarks?


Just one more - to show the scale of the Gateway Arch. You'll have to forgive me for including so many Arch photos - I'm just tired of grain silos.


Still in St. Louis - we zipped by Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.


I need some help here. I believe this is the Sheraton Hotel downtown, which used to be the JC Penney building. I'm pretty sure this is a mural, drawn with the 3D effect, but not positive. Does anyone know?


Just outside of St. Louis, we passed Six Flags - brought back memories of our visits to Magic Mountain in the Old Days. Unfortunately, most of those memories have to do with Beth in the backseat of the car on the way home ...


We zipped through Bourbon, Missouri - reportedly, the water tanks do not contain Bourbon.


Next thing we knew, we were in Springfield, MO. We waved to Stephanie as we passed by. Maybe next time we can stop for a short visit.


We turned off the Interstate to find some lunch, and ended up on a short portion of Route 66. We had an opportunity earlier to do a 33 mile stretch of the old route, but weren't exactly sure where we would end up. Another thing to do next time.


Lou picked Taco Bell for lunch (???) Said he was tired of McDonald's and Subway. It was pretty good. I did take a photo of the "Do it yourself Dog Wash" at the Car Wash next to Taco Bell.


Natasha is looking pensive as she waits for Lou to bring lunch. She wants nothing to do with the Dog Wash.


We ended up in Arkansas. Which was our plan, so that's a good thing.


We traveled quite a while on the "Trail of Tears," which is the route the Cherokee Indians took when they were driven from other parts of the US into Oklahoma. There is also some Civil War history in the area.


Arriving safely at our Best Western home for the night. This one is nicer than last night (although it was good). BW seems to be upping their game - sprucing up their motels and offering extra services - like allowing pets. We've no complaints.


So, that was today.  These updates are longer than ususal – I imagine things will slim down as we move through Texas tomorrow.  Our destination is Amarillo – ugh.


Road Trip – Day 3, Ohio to Illinois

The Road Warriors continued the trek today, leaving Mentor, Ohio at 8am and arriving in Effingham, Illinois at 5pm.  Except it wasn’t 5pm, it was only 4pm.  Somewhere the time changed and we missed it.  Lou’s comment, “so much for Apple and their automatic updates on this $%&#@ iPhone.”

Today was, quite frankly, a long and boring drive.  We were on the interstate all the way, which is good for time, but not so good for scenery.  But, we made it safe and that’s what counts.  Only 5 more travel days left, and the longest one is now behind us.

The morning started off with clear skies, just a little hazy. We saw quite a few farms along the way ...


We drove across Ohio, passing through the arch into Indiana.


Entering Indiana ... notice the trucks on the road. This was the biggest annoyance of the day as we drove across Middle America. The trucks were plentiful and crazy.


Another farm. The tower on the left is an Alien Communication Center.


It got cloudy, and Lou thought we might get rain. I was worried about a Twister (perhaps I watch too many movies).


We saw the Indianapolis Skyline. This was the only large city we drove through, as our route hit the outskirts of Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton.


We also saw the stadium where the Colts play. Interesting - it looks like a large warehouse, but fits right into the surrounding industrial area.


We only saw a few horses and cows.


We did, however, see lots of cornfields.


We finally drove all the way across Indiana, and entered Illinois. It looked the same.


We found Effingham. And then we found our hotel.


The Raintree Best Western. An older one, conveniently located right next to the freeway.


Natasha is not sure the room is up to her standards. I told her, "It's FINE!" It is fine, not as nice as the last two nights, but perfectly acceptable. And, at $59 + $10 for the dog, we can't complain about a little freeway noise.


It was Effingham Hot when we arrived, but we managed to get the A/C on to cool down the room.  After a nice shower, and a relaxing dinner (the second half of our lunch Subway sandwiches), we plan to get to sleep early.  The dog has settled down – she got a little antsy in the later part of today’s drive.  6 hours seems to be her limit.

Tomorrow we head to Fayetteville, Arkansas …

Update:  Adding a couple of pics taken late in the evening.  It started raining quite hard, so I went out and experimented.

Our room is just to the right of the columns in the entry way.


This one shows the rain coming down. The door to our room is just behind the car. The nice thing about this motel is the rooms open directly to the outside - makes it easy with the dog.

Road Trip – Day 2, New York to Ohio

We left right on time this morning, just a few minutes before 8am.  We arrived safely in Mentor, Ohio just after 4pm.  It was an uneventful trip.  We have another nice hotel – although it’s a Best Western, it’s a step above the regular ones.

Some photos from the drive:

The morning started out foggy, but never got too bad. We saw a lot of road construction today – never got stuck in traffic, but it did limit our overall speed.
Cows … in a field … in the fog.
We see some blue sky peeking in and out as we drive along after a couple of hours.
I’m pretty sure this is an Alien Spaceship disguised as a grain silo …
Always nice to see creative advertising. (Is this the National Ready Mix Concrete Association’s latest promotional campaign?)
I’m surprised we didn’t stop here.
We drove through the state of New York, and entered Pennsylvania for a short time. Then we crossed into Ohio. Lou snapped a pic of the Ohio state sign with his iPhone, because I was napping. I also wanted to get photos as we passed by Erie, PA for Jeannette. I was, however, taking a nap, and Lou said I was snoring. So, I got this sign as we left the Flying J Gas Station about 30 miles before arriving at our destination.
Our room is very nice. It looks a little small here.
That’s because it is a Suite, with a small living room and desk area. All for $114.

This motel had a restaurant on site, and we were allowed to take Natasha as long as we ate on the patio. This was a nice treat, compared to our usual Pizza or Subway in the room.

Not sure how well the photos came out … I’m using my other computer, since my wine-infused MacBook may be dying a slow death, and I don’t have the colors calibrated.

Tomorrow is a long day – 460 miles to Effingham, Illinois.  We are certainly seeing parts of the country that are not on everyone’s radar.

The Road Trip Begins

Some of our Road Trips are short, some are long.  This one is forever … 2 months on the road.  Today was Departure Day from Camden.  We had Pizza on the boat with Ben & Emily last night, and got the car partly packed.  The Itinerary had us departing at 8 AM – we missed it by 30 minutes, but still did well.  Considering it was raining, and low tide – which meant the ramp up to the parking lot was at its steepest.

Our first destination is Arizona, and we’ll take 7 travel days to get there – 6 nights at dog-friendly motels…

We said goodbye to Camden as we drove through town in the pouring rain:


We wanted to get a photo of this sign – having the windshield wipers going makes my road photography a bit more difficult:


We always smile when we pass this place:


This is what it looked like an hour into the trip – still raining.  We’re on the bridge heading into Wiscasset, and it’s almost 9:30am.


An hour plus some, it’s starting to clear, but still cloudy.  Here we are, getting ready to cross the bridge into New Hampshire – the welcome sign is actually in the middle of the bridge.


We are in Massachusetts now, and we see the first sign of Fall Color.  Lou yelled, “Red Tree!!!” (I know, it’s orange)


We don’t like steel bridges, but this one had an other-worldly Alien feel to it:


We’re in New York now – have been for a while.  I forget just how big the state it.  Still lots of crazy clouds, and a few sprinkles, but rain has held off in the afternoon.  We grabbed a quick lunch at McDonald’s, stopped at a couple of rest stops, but other than that, we made good time.


We are almost to our destination for the night – Cobleskill, New York.  Lots of farm country, and a nice regular town (as in, no Empire State Buildings or stuff like that):


Lou did good on his hotel pick for the night – we’re at the Best Western, and it’s just about perfect.  Away from the highway, clean room, easy access to the large grassy area outside.  And, a restaurant onsite.  We didn’t need the restaurant, since we ate our leftover pizza from last night.  We arrived just before 4pm, after driving 400 miles.


In no time flat, the Princess had made herself comfortable.  She did well on the trip today, sleeping most of the way.   She did let us know a couple of times that it was time to stop.  She is not lacking in the communication department.


Now it’s bedtime … we have another 400 miles to do tomorrow.  Let’s hope the weather improves.

Windjammer Festival – The Rest of Day 3

The Sea Dog show was the highlight of the day, but we saw some other interesting things.

Another shot of the wussy Pirates – talking to each other, and checking out their hosiery. To be fair, the rain may have interfered with some of their planned activities.


Then we saw Pirates in the Harbor – surely they were getting ready to attack the Windjammers:


Nope – turns out they were wringing their hands in despair, as people on the Windjammer were throwing Apples at them. Wimpy Pirates, all of them.


We enjoyed the view from the aft deck, and watched the Appledore sail into the harbor. Rumor has it, she is getting new sails soon. Looks like she needs them!


There was also an option to purchase a $15 ticket to have dinner onboard one of the schooners. We had Chef Louie, so we skipped this option.


Then we watched the winner of the Remote Control boat contest (he was the only entrant) watch as his wife sailed his boat around. We wondered why he was following so closely.


We soon found out, as he lunged to protect the Sea Moon, as well as his boat:


Now it was time for the event I've been waiting for since July – the Fireworks! I had so much fun I couldn't wait to try again. I had some new things I wanted to try.


The test shot came out great. Kathy went down to the Marina with me, while the boys watched from the ship (and cooked dinner). The Fireworks started at 8pm, so it wasn't totally dark when we arrived.



The first shot didn't go quite as I had planned:


The second was interesting – still not what I was going for. This is the photo as it came from the camera, no fancy Photoshopping:


Hmmmnn, I guess I shouldn't have tried to do something different. None of the shots came out as well as the July pics. It was a combination of me using a different lens setup, as well as the dampness keeping the smoke in the air by the bursts a lot longer. Oh well, it was a learning experience.








My motto is … There's always next year!!!


The Festival continued on Monday, but we didn't see much. Kathy and Steve left around noon, and Lou and I started packing for the trip out west. We leave Wednesday morning ( which is tomorrow morning). We have most everything packed, and just need to load the car. Unfortunately, it's raining now, and will probably rain tomorrow as well.


We'll try to update as we go, although there is no exciting sightseeing planned until after we arrive in Arizona.